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Heartland Curve, part 2 [Column_Photo Archives]

heartland-curve_03.jpg: 360° view of the Heartland Curve

“Heartland Curve” is located about two miles east of Thompson, Utah: on milepost 526 at Rio Grande track charts. It lies next to the Rio Grande's highest point between Grand Junction, Colorado and Green River, Utah.

The Curve is about 500 ft walk from the paved old US Hwy 50 & 6, and another 700 ft walk from Utah Welcome Center on westbound I-70: a little hill climb is needed, but seem far easy to access compared with “Patrick’s Point” west of Floy.

heartland-curve_04.jpg: Mac Owen's view
heartland-curve_05.jpg: Mike Danneman's view

The setting is composed of tight and loose curves which lead to reversed curves both directions. Here, also are the cut and fill which allow various heights of viewpoints. The setting faces the south and seems nothing gets in the way of sunlight all day long. Trains reduce speed due to its 5° curve both directions. Accordingly, they smoke them up after negotiating it.

As you can see, we can chose the right angle from various opportunities according to the train’s direction, train’s length, position of sunlight or purpose of the photo. I think that’s why many photographers made pilgrimage to this setting.

heartland-curve_06.jpg: Mark M. Hemphill's view
heartland-curve_07.jpg: Ken Crist's view

The view from the point is vast and wonderful without an obstacle. You can admire breathtaking panorama of the desert, the Book Cliffs and the La Sal Mountains: even my wife, who isn’t interested in trains, could wait an hour for the Zephyr. I believe that’s another reason why many photographers left their footprints here.

heartland-curve_08.jpg: my wife prepares for the session

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Heartland Curve, part 1 [Column_Photo Archives]

heartland-curve_01.jpg: Google map showing Heartland Curve

Popular photo opportunities/settings along the former Rio Grande main line such as Blue Mountain Dr crossing near Clay, East Portal or US Hwy 24 overpass near Malta are all located in Colorado.

However, Utah also has several settings where successive photographers were/are fond of. Volumes of great photos taken at such settings can be found on web.

“Patrick’s Point” west of Floy is one of such a setting with a name: it is said to be named after photographer Mel Patrick[1, 2].

“Heartland Curve” east of Thompson is another such a setting with a name. This name is found in Google map, however this setting is rather called “Thompson Hill” or “Thompson Cut” by the enthusiasts.

Historical photographers visited the “Heartland Curve”. Mac Owen captured Krauss-Maffei in 1962 according to the postcard. Ken Crist captured California Zephyr in 1965 and Ross Grenard captured eastbound freight in 1975 according to the book Rio Grande in Color Vol. 2: Utah. James Belmont also visited the setting in the 70’s[3]. Mike Danneman and Mark W. Hemphill seem visit the setting since the 80’s[4, 5].

Why so many photographers make pilgrimage to this setting? Let’s have a look.

[1] Danneman, Mike, (1996) Lunar-like landscape, Flickr;
[2] Patrick, Mel, (1980) RGZ west of Floy, Ut May ’80, Flickr;
[3] Belmont, James, (1979) untitled,;
[4] Danneman, Mike, (1984) Cresting Thompson Hill, Flickr;
[5] Hemphill, Mark W., (1985) "The Unknown Rio Grande", Trains, Kalmbach Publishing Co.

mac-owen-photo.jpg: 1962 postcard photo by Mac Owen
ken-crist-photo.jpg: 1965 postcard photo by Ken Crist

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Back to School – Educational Service at Cisco [Column_Town of Cisco]

children-at-play.jpg: Cisco, UT Sep. 10, 2017

Town of Cisco never had frills like hospital, town hall, fire station, jail, church, library, bank, park nor cemetery. The town became a minimum community in the 60’s after it lost water line. However, the town still kept some facilities for community service; nothing added, nothing subtracted from its heyday.

The school at Cisco was opened in 1898[1]. May Jones was the original teacher and there were sixteen pupils. The school bell rung at nine o’clock in the evening to inform the children of the curfew[2].
I couldn’t find the photo of original schoolhouse, but the 1904 photo of nearby Dewey schoolhouse log cabin may suggest the appearance of original schoolhouse[3].

In 1919, the “barest makeshift tie shack” used as the schoolhouse was sold and the town had to find the replacement[4]. Accordingly, a new 16ft x 24ft schoolhouse was constructed, on Main Street up the hill south of the town, only in two weeks[5, 6]. However, the school was temporally closed in 1943 and 1944 due to the lack of pupils: the enrollments those years were nine[7, 8].

17ft x 20ft Fruita, Utah schoolhouse built in 1896 provides some information about heyday of Cisco School . Giant stride swing, volleyball and net were added to school equipment in 1928[9]. Pupils enjoyed the Sylvania Hi-Fi machine newly arranged in 1958[10].

William Cowger(1889 – 1971) of the Cisco Mercantile provided power from his private generating plant since 1951[11]. Victor Murray(1893 – 1962) provided the natural gas free of cost from his gas well to the school to fire automatic thermostat controlled heating unit in 1954[12].

However, the school was finally closed in 1959 due to the lack of pupils[13]. Mary Eleanor Gould(1895 – 1973) was the last teacher. Number of the last pupils was fourteen[14]. The school board seat assigned by Grand County Commission to Cisco was eliminated in 1961[15].

Two Oil Companies, Promintory Oil and Federal Oil, rented the vacant schoolhouse structure for storage in 1964[16]. The structure itself seems lived into the 70’s, as we can see it in the photo attached to Kathy Jordan’s articles[17]. The structure also appears in the movie Vanishing Point shot in 1970.
The structure was finally demolished maybe in the early 70’s, no later than 1974, according to USGS aerial photos.

Accommodation for the successive teachers was provided near the schoolhouse at the corner of Second Street and Colorado Street. The structure itself still survives to this day.

[1] Dec. 23, 1898 Grand Valley Times;
[2] Sep. 8, 1905 Grand Valley Times;
[3] 1904 photo of Dewey schoolhouse;
[4] Oct. 16, 1919 Times Independent;
[5] Oct. 23, 1919 Times Independent;
[6] Nov. 6, 1919 Times Independent;
[7] Aug. 26, 1943 Times Independent;
[8] Aug. 30, 1945 Times Independent;
[9] May 3, 1928 Times Independent;
[10] Jan. 30, 1958 Times Independent;
[11] Mar. 8, 1951 Times Independent;
[12] Oct. 7, 1954 Times Independent;
[13] Aug. 13, 1959 Times Independent;
[14] Sep. 12, 1958 Times Independent;
[15] May 4, 1961 Times independent;
[16] Sep. 3, 1964 Times Independent;
[17] Jordan, Kathy "‘Uranium King’ Charlie Steen started out in Cisco tar¬paper shack", Mar. 24, 2011 Daily Sentinel;

Fruita_SchoolHouse.jpg: drawings of schoolhouse at Fruita, UT
school-interior.jpg: Fruita schoolhouse interior, copied from historical marker

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Surfaces - Everyday Life in the Early 70’s [Photo Archives_Roadside]

Here, I introduce scanned images from my dad’s slides mostly taken in the early 70’s.
1964 Oldsmobile was our only choice for means of family trip to as north as Fairbanks, AK or to as south as Oaxaca, Mexico: we never used airlines. Accordingly, I decided to call this series of posts as “Surfaces”.

1970_71_US_1170.jpg: Oct. 1970
2017_2540.jpg: Sep. 2017. Both at Powell St. and Ellis St., San Francisco, CA

The eye from the hotel window and the eye from the street cross each other after 47 years.

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Surfaces - Everyday Life in the Early 70’s [Photo Archives_Roadside]

Here, I introduce scanned images from my dad’s slides mostly taken in the early 70’s.
1964 Oldsmobile was our only choice for means of family trip to as north as Fairbanks, AK or to as south as Oaxaca, Mexico: we never used airlines. Accordingly, I decided to call this series of posts as “Surfaces”.

: Jackson St. and Mason St., San Francisco, CA

View from the famous cable car seems changed little.

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Rio Grande System Telephone Directory [Column_Reviews]


Rio Grande SYSTEM Telephone Directory
Issued May, 1963
Issued February, 1965
Issued May, 1967
Issued January, 1973
Issued July, 1977
Issued July, 1981

These must have been one of the printed matters depots or section houses kept: the Telephone Directories. Directories I have are issued in 1963, 1965, 1967, 1973, 1977 and 1981: if they are issued every two years, 1969, 1971, 1975 and 1979 versions are missing at my collection. Each has Private Branch Telephone Exchange Directory in both alphabetical list of names and list of departments.

My purpose to collect these was to verify the change over the years of Rio Grande facilities at Cisco, Utah. According to these directories:
In May 1963, Cisco is assigned 144 in List of Waystation Telephones, 77_Grand Junction Helper Line, but already in Seasonal status.
In Feb. 1965, Cisco is disappeared from the Directory.
In Jan. 1973, Cisco is reappeared as CISCO SECTION assigned 147.
In Jul. 1977, Cisco is listed as CISCO SECTION assigned 147.
In Jul. 1981, Cisco is listed as CISCO SECTION - SIGNAL assigned 147.

I knew that the depot was seasonally closed between December 15 and April 15 since 1950[1]. According to D&RGW Depots by Clive and David Carter, the depot was retired in 1965. Therefore, it seems the depot finally closed its doors on Dec. 14, 1964 and demolished soon after that before Feb. 1965.

Farther research is needed where the CISCO SECTION phone was installed: Cisco never had a section house.

[1] Feb. 16, 1950 Times Independent;

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